NCAA Tournament 2013: Updated Odds for Final 16 Teams
We've reached the point in the season when truly anyone that's still standing can win it all.
What was once a pipe dream necessitating six (or seven for La Salle) consecutive wins is now just a realistic four-game winning streak away.
But which teams does Vegas* say will most likely win it all? How difficult is each team's remaining path? What's the one thing each team is hoping will happen? What's that other thing they're hoping to avoid?
We answered all of those questions, so you can confidently fill out a brand-new Sweet 16 bracket to eventually tear to pieces.
*Odds listed are the average from BetUS, Bovada and VegasInsider as of the morning of March 27
Florida Gulf Coast
Odds of Winning it All: 69-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 9.8/10. Not only are the Eagles the lowest seed left in the tournament, but there's a very strong chance that they would need to win four consecutive games against teams currently receiving odds of 10-to-1 or better.
Could Win National Title If: Other teams continue tensing up around them. It's become annoying to hear announcers talk about it in every upset, but there's something to be said for Florida Gulf Coast's carefree attitude while higher-seeded opponents are just playing not to lose.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: Turnovers rear their ugly head. In their two tournament games, the Eagles have turned the ball over 13 times—not great, but not awful either. In four regular-season games against tournament teams, they averaged 22.5 turnovers per game. Against championship-caliber teams that will likely out-rebound and out-shoot the Eagles, that many turnovers could lead to a 30-point blowout.
Odds of Winning it All: 67-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 7.7/10. The first game against Wichita State is fairly winnable. The following games against Ohio State and Louisville will be just a bit more challenging.
Could Win National Title If: Jerrell Wright can stay out of foul trouble. From December 8 through March 21, the Explorers were 16-2 when Wright committed two or fewer fouls and 1-6 when he committed three or more. Suffice it to say, they aren't quite as formidable when their leading shot-blocker and rebounder is on the bench.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: Ramon Galloway's hot streak runs out. In the two games prior to the NCAA tournament, Galloway was 0-11 from three-point land, but in the three games since then, he's made 12 of his 23 long-range shots. Considering they won each of those games by single digits, the Explorers will need each and every one of those threes moving forward.
Odds of Winning it All: 47-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 10/10. At least there's a chance that neither Florida Gulf Coast nor La Salle will run into Louisville. The Ducks have to deal with the Cardinals no matter what and would draw either Duke or Michigan State 48 hours later if they found a way to knock off the unanimous favorite to win it all.
Could Win National Title If: Arsalan Kazemi keeps destroying other teams on the glass. The Ducks had a plus-14 rebounding margin in each of their first two games of the tournament.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: They run into a team that can capitalize on the 18 turnovers they've committed in each tournament game thus far. Did I mention they play Louisville next?
Odds of Winning it All: 37-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 9.3/10. Miami and Indiana are among the four favorites to win it all, and the Golden Eagles would probably need to get through both of them just to make the Final Four.
Could Win National Title If: Davante Gardner becomes a more assertive presence. In their two games, he has averaged 8.5 points and three rebounds. He's never going to be a 35 minutes-per-game type of guy, but he needs to be able to do more than that with his 20 minutes on the court.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: Their dumb luck runs out. In the first two months of the season, it was Arizona that kept finding ways to win games it had no business winning. Thus far in the tournament, Marquette has been doing that. Let the Golden Eagles hang around long enough, and Vander Blue will pull a win out of nowhere.
Odds of Winning it All: 33-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 6.5/10. Should Arizona beat Ohio State in the other half of the West region, the Shockers will have already beaten the two toughest teams they'll face before the Final Four.
Could Win National Title If: They shoot like they did against Gonzaga. They exploited a poor perimeter defense by making seven of their final nine three-point attempts and finishing the game shooting 50 percent from downtown.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: They shoot like they did against Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, this is the more likely outcome, as they shot just 34 percent from long range during the regular season. Forcing 7.6 eight per game will help keep things interesting, but you simply don't last long in the NCAA tournament without some three-point magic.
Odds of Winning it All: 20-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 7.6/10. There's this roller coaster at Hershey Park called the Sidewinder. It pulls the car up the track and then drops it through three loops to be "caught" on the other side, pulled up the track again and then sent through the same path in reverse.
The Wildcats are about to go through their three loops with Ohio State. They would get a brief hiatus in the next round against La Salle or Wichita State before going through backwards loops in the final two games.
Could Win National Title If: Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley can be effective in the paint without fouling out. Thus far in the tournament, the two big men have combined to average 15.5 points, 15.5 rebounds and seven fouls per game. As long as they're able to stay in there grabbing boards and altering shots—Belmont and Harvard made just 36 percent of their two-point field-goal attempts vs. Arizona—the Wildcats have a good chance against any team in the country.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: Mark Lyons can't get going. The Wildcats are 13-1 when Lyons scores 17 or more points and 14-6 when he's held to 16 or less. Between being guarded by Aaron Craft in the Sweet 16 and possibly Tekele Cotton in the Elite Eight, Lyons will not be getting too many easy buckets.
Odds of Winning it All: 17-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 8.9/10. Congratulations on reaching the Sweet 16 despite being forced to play late-night games in California! Your reward is games against Indiana and Miami on Georgetown's home court. Someone on the selection committee really doesn't like Jim Boeheim.
Could Win National Title If: James Southerland plays up to his potential. Over the Orange's last six games, Southerland has made 22 of his 41 three-point attempts.
As an added bonus, when Southerland gets hot, it reduces the number of terrible shots that Brandon Triche has to force. Triche shot under 30 percent from long range over the course of the season, but has made 45 percent of his shots in the last six games.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: They run into a team that gets hots from three-point range. There's a pretty good chance of that happening, too. Indiana was third in the nation in three-point percentage during the regular season, and Miami is shooting 48.3 percent from downtown over its last three games. The 2-3 zone was able to shut down Montana, but is it going to be that effective against two of the four or five best teams in the nation?
Odds of Winning it All: 13-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 7.6/10. With any other coach, this would be a more difficult path. Tom Izzo gets credit for somehow always winning more games than his seeding deserves. You know, in the years that Michigan State doesn't get eliminated in the first round.
Could Win National Title If: Derrick Nix continues putting the team on his back. Doesn't it feel like there's always a senior who just kind of toiled away for four years that suddenly shows up at the end of his career? Louisville had Kyle Kuric last year, Duke had Brian Zoubek in 2010 and the Spartans had Goran Suton in 2009.
Nix has always been good, but it's just over the last three games that he's shown an ability to average 18 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: Keith Appling doesn't show up in a big way. I've been harping on Appling for a few weeks now, and he hasn't let me down yet.
In his last 371 minutes of action, Appling has 22 assists against 23 turnovers and has made just 12 of his 50 three-point attempts. Ladies and gentlemen, the Spartans' primary ball-handler and leading scorer!
Odds of Winning it All: 12-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 8.8/10. Because of the size of Kansas, Florida and either Indiana or Miami, it's a pretty tough draw for the guard-heavy Wolverines.
Could Win National Title If: Trey Burke decides he wants to be this year's Kemba Walker. Walker averaged 23.5 points and 5.7 assists per game during Connecticut's 2011 championship run.
If there's anyone left in the field who can put up those kind of numbers, it's Trey Burke. The opener against South Dakota State was just the third time all season that he failed to score 15 points in a game.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: Mitch McGary reverts to his ineffective ways. In their last 11 games, the Wolverines have just four comfortable wins. In those four victories, he averaged 12.5 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. In the other seven games, he averaged 5.1 points and 3.3 rebounds.
The guard play is always good, but unless you plan on shooting 65 percent from three-point range, you need someone who can play in the post.
Odds of Winning it All: 11-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 6.5/10. For a lesser team, facing Michigan and Florida would be a murderer's row.
Could Win National Title If: The real Kansas shows up. Before losing to TCU, the Jayhawks looked like the clear-cut favorite to win it all. They were just regaining our trust when they got destroyed by Baylor in the season finale.
If they play like they did in the second half against North Carolina on Sunday, they'll be able to waltz into the Final Four. And the scary part is, Ben McLemore was a complete no-show for that game.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: Jeff Withey gets into foul trouble. In the 12 games in which Withey has committed three or more fouls, the Jayhawks are 8-4 with an average margin of victory of 4.0 points per game. In the 24 games in which he's committed two or fewer fouls, they're 23-1 with an average margin of victory of 18.5 points per game. That's hardly coincidental.
Odds of Winning it All: 10-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 9/10. It's tough enough to have to face Michigan State and Louisville in consecutive games, but Seth Curry—who has being dealing with a leg issue all season—would have to face the best team in the country less than 48 hours after a hard-fought game against the Spartans.
Could Win National Title If: Rasheed Sulaimon can get hot. Sulaimon has the ability to score 25 points in a game, but he also has the propensity to just take up space on the court. In 11 of Duke's last 23 games, Sulaimon has eight or fewer points. Tough to go far with a shooting guard who averages 29 minutes per game and disappears that regularly.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee keep getting into foul trouble. As we saw against Creighton, there isn't much coming off the bench when the big guys need to go to it. Amile Jefferson and Josh Hairston are OK, but they commit fouls considerably more frequently than Kelly or Plumlee. Both guys need to stay on the court, or a team better than Creighton will be able to victimize the Blue Devils while they're out of the game.
Odds of Winning it All: 8-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 3.2/10. The overall rank of the teams left in the West region are as follows: eight, 21, 35 and 49. The only one of the bunch that should have been ranked higher was Ohio State. If they can't make it out of that region, there's something very wrong with it.
Could Win National Title If: Sam Thompson plays anything like he did against Iona. The high-flying sophomore had 20 points and 10 rebounds and played a great second fiddle to Deshaun Thomas. Since before the season even started, the concern with Ohio State has always been who will score aside from Thomas. If Thompson can pick up the slack, the Buckeyes will be a very tough out.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: The referees don't submit to Aaron Craft's playing style. Craft is an excellent Big Ten defender, but sometimes the impartial referees call games according to the conference they officiated all season rather than the ones they're officiating in the tournament. If Craft gets into early foul trouble, the Buckeyes are screwed.
Odds of Winning it All: 8-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 6.3/10. No offense to Marquette, but the Golden Eagles are a distant fourth-best team in the East region and Miami has the necessary pieces to beat either Indiana or Syracuse, even without Reggie Johnson.
Could Win National Title If: The threes keep falling. The Hurricanes have been on fire the past two weeks, and Trey McKinney-Jones—who hit 39 percent of his threes during the regular season—hasn't even really shown up yet for the tournament. Both McKinney-Jones and Durand Scott had rough nights offensively against Illinois and they still found a way to win the game.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: Shane Larkin decides to take a night off. The Hurricanes have an excellent rotation and can withstand a poor night of shooting from one or two guys, but Larkin is the heart and soul of this club. They'll go as far as he takes them.
Odds of Winning it All: 5-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 4.5/10. For as much as I've griped about the Gators' inability to play away from home, this is a very good team. Only one team has scored more than 67 points against them all season, and that was the game against Arkansas when we blinked and the Razorbacks were up 36-13 less than 11 minutes into the game. Whether they draw Kansas or Michigan after beating Florida Gulf Coast, they should be the favorite in that game.
Could Win National Title If: They can overcome their road/neutral woes. At 48.4 percent, they finished the season eighth in the nation in field-goal percentage. They finished top 25 in the country in turnovers per game, and we already touched on their impressive defense in the difficulty of path blurb. By all accounts, they're the total package that has a mental block against finishing out road/neutral games against quality opponents.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: Erik Murphy is held in check. Florida's version of Ryan Kelly has scored in double figures in 18 of the last 25 games. When he does so, the Gators are 17-1. In the other seven games in which he failed to reach 10 points, they're 2-5. Whether his low scoring is the cause or the effect of their losses, they'll want to make sure he's getting plenty of open looks.
Odds of Winning it All: 4-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 6/10. Indiana has seen a lot of impressive defensive schemes this year in the Big Ten, but nothing can really prepare you for the Syracuse zone. Playing Miami's fast-paced offense a round later won't be a picnic either.
Could Win National Title If: Victor Oladipo can find his stroke in each game. Oladipo's shooting percentage this season was an astounding 59.4 percent. The next best percentage in the country for a guy listed as a guard is Nicholls State's Fred Hunter at 56.7 percent.
But I digress.
When Oladipo shoots better than 50 percent in a game, the Hoosiers are 21-1. They're 8-5 when he's shooting 50 percent or lower.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: They don't play at least a little bit of defense. Of the other four teams that finished atop the Big Ten standings, only Michigan failed to at least match its season average in scoring when playing against Indiana. Minnesota averaged 78 points per game against the Hoosiers despite averaging just 68 per game against everyone else. If they don't do something to slow down both Syracuse and Miami, they'll be watching the Final Four from home.
Odds of Winning it All: 3-to-1
Difficulty of Path: 4.5/10. No offense to Oregon, but the Cardinals will turn the Ducks over inside and out. A game against Michigan State would be intriguing, but I fear they would beat the Blue Devils by at least a dozen. The best team in the country should never have a very difficult path. That doesn't mean it's devoid of potential potholes, though.
Could Win National Title If: They just keep doing their thing. The Cardinals have won five consecutive neutral court games by an average of 22 points per game. In fact, 13 of their last 15 games have been victories by at least a dozen points, and 10 of those were against teams that made the NCAA tournament. Maybe Indiana could give them a run for their money, but as long as they don't beat themselves, they should get to the championship game with relative ease.
Would Leave Empty-Handed If: Three-point shooting completely fails them. Great defense and great rebounding will translate no matter what. However, as a team that shoots just 33 percent from long-range, there's no telling if and when they could put together a 3-of-25 type of night. They've had the luxury of rarely needing to hit threes this season, but should the necessity arise...well, let's just say stranger things have happened in this tournament.